Local capability for vaccine, PPE production pushed

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    The Board of Investments (BOI) is working with six local pharmaceutical companies, including the country’s largest Unilab, on their plans for local vaccine manufacturing.

    In his presentation to the Cabinet on Wednesday night, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez identified the five others as Greentech, Glovax Biotech, IG Biotech, New Marketlink and Lloyds Laboratories.

    Lopez also noted the progress of local capacity to produce medical-grade masks and filters and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

    Lopez said with local vaccine capacity, the country would not have to depend on imports again in the future.

    Projects like these, he added, would also create local jobs and keep money onshore.

    This would be the first time for Unilab to explore vaccine manufacturing although details of the plan are not available at presstime.

    Glovax has previously announced its plan to distribute and eventually manufacture EuCorVac-19, a vaccine against the new coronavirus 2019 developed by South Korea’s Eubiologics

    Still as part of self-sufficiency efforts for medical-grade internationally certified PPEs, Lopez said the country, from zero, now has a monthly capacity to produce 2.4 million pieces of N95 masks; 3.2 million pieces of coveralls ; 6,000 units of ventilators; 20 tons of meltblown filters for face masks; 40 tons spunbond non-woven polypropylene fabrics.

    Lopez added the country’s capacity to produce N88 surgical face masks has grown more 10 times from 6 million pieces to 56 million.

    Lopez also bared plans by Hyundai to produce 300 million nitrile globes per year in a factory in Malvar, Batangas.

    Meanwhile, Lopez bared the completion “very soon” of the distribution of 47 million reusable, fabric face masks for the poor.

    He said the ongoing program has produced almost 14 million masks of which 12 million have been delivered to various regions, including the National Capital Region which has the most number of cases. The cloth masks, which can be used up to 30 times, are produced by community sewers as a livelihood project of the government.